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Surrounded by Madness: Kirkus Reviews Recommended Memoir from One of the World's Foremost Researchers in the Field of Mental Illness

Written by Dr. Rachel Pruchno, Endowed Chair & Professor of Medicine at Rowan University, this searing and unforgettable new memoir tells the story of the author’s own experiences with mental illness in her family.


Voorhees, NJ -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/03/2014 -- The National Institute of Mental Health and National Alliance on Mental Illness estimate that approximately one in four Americans suffer from a diagnosable mental illness. That is more than all of the people diagnosed with cancers, heart diseases, stroke/vascular diseases, and diabetes combined.

Yet, unlike the above ailments, Americans remain reluctant to discuss mental illness, and as such, those who suffer are stigmatized or ignored by friends, family members and often, the medical community. No one knows more about this subject than Dr. Rachel Pruchno, author of the new memoir Surrounded By Madness: A Memoir of Mental Illness and Family Secrets.

With this book, Dr. Pruchno shines the light into the darkest corners of her own history and provides vital insight into the problems with the United States’ mental health care and legal systems. Dr. Pruchno wrote the memoir to end her own silence surrounding the subject and tells the gripping and poignant story of her mother’s and adopted daughter’s struggles with the devastating disease.

“Once I got my story on paper, I realized that it was an important story that needed to be shared so that other families struggling with mental illness - and there are tens upon tens of millions of them in the United States alone - would understand they were not alone and that it is counterproductive to hide mental illness from others for fear of shame and stigma,” says Dr. Pruchno.

Unflinchingly honest, unsentimental and raw, Surrounded By Madness is an indisputably significant contribution to the ongoing and ever-growing discussion surrounding mental illness.


“What was the likelihood my adopted daughter would have my father’s hazel eyes and my mother’s mental illness?”

In this fiercely candid memoir, Dr. Pruchno, a scientist widely acclaimed for her research on mental illness and families, shows how mental illness threatened to destroy her own family. Not once, but twice.

As a child, she didn’t understand her mother’s episodes of crippling sadness or whirlwind activity. As a mother, she feared her daughter Sophie would follow in the footsteps of the grandmother Sophie never knew.

Unraveling the mysteries of her mother’s and daughter’s illnesses, Pruchno fought to preserve her marriage and protect her son. But it was not until she came to terms with her own secrets that she truly understood the destructive and pervasive effects mental illness has on families.

Surrounded by Madness is transforming. It will empower families to stop hiding and start talking when mental illness strikes.

Since its release, the book has attracted the attention of leaders in the field, and glowingly positive reviews.

“Penned in a vivid, literary style that bleeds anguish, Pruchno’s story is a mother’s worst nightmare. Since the book centers on a young person and leaves such a powerful impression, it would make a solid supplementary text for a college psychology course. Pruchno’s feelings of desperation and powerlessness speak more to the reality of mental illness than an academic case study ever could,” from Kirkus Reviews.

“An important, poignant voice rooted in one family’s experience. Will help move communities beyond dialogue to action,” from Michael J. Fitzpatrick, M.S.W., Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“Reading Surrounded By Madness is like watching the inevitable train crash that you can’t stop from happening. Poignant, vivid, tragic, yet ultimately resilient,” from Stephen P. Hinshaw, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California at Berkeley and Vice-Chair for Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, University of California at San Francisco.

“A report from the front lines of the daily battles of mental illness and a first-hand account of loss, this is a compelling book for clinicians, scholars, and family members trying to understand chronic mental illness,” from Michael A. Smyer, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology & Provost, Bucknell University.

For more information about the author, please visit Dr. Rachel Pruchno’s official website.

For more information about Surrounded By Madness and to watch the book trailer, please visit the official website.

Surrounded By Madness: A Memoir of Mental Illness and Family Secrets is available exclusively online: http://amzn.to/1hhtbnb

About Rachel Pruchno
Rachel Pruchno is Director of Research at the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging and Endowed Chair, Professor of Medicine at Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine. She earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State University.

Dr. Pruchno has been the Principal Investigator on numerous research grants funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Aging, the National Institute of Nursing Research, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Retirement Research Foundation, and the Cleveland Foundation. She has published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals, 10 invited book chapters, and co-edited Challenges of an Aging Society: Ethical Dilemmas, Political Issues. She has served as Editor-in-Chief of The Gerontologist, a leading scientific journal, since 2011.

As a weekly blogger, since January 2014, Dr. Pruchno has been contributing to PsychologyToday.com, the website of the magazine Psychology Today. Here is the link: All in the Family: Mental Illness and Caregiving Across the Generations.

She is married with four children, two of whom are dogs.

If you would like more information about Dr. Pruchno’s academic work, including her CV and publications, please visit her personal website.